Day 5. 17 April To Pasang

To Pasang nice day some track some road. We walk very slow on the uphill sections, but I find I speed up naturally on the downhills.

Before we left we found The teahouse I stayed in last time and showed the owner my photos. She recognized people and dragged us up 2 steep flights of stairs to show me the additions they had recently built. The family and staff now lived in the rooms I used last time. She recognized people in the photos, but again I am told that the mothers were dead and their children have moved away.

Looking at old photos

The steep climb up the stairs first thing in the morning Sent my heart into a real spin. So a few metres along yhe street I was puffing into my syringe and throwing my legs up into the air. This gave my guide and porter a bit of a fright, but the method works to bring my heart rhythm back to normal. We were by a sign that pointed to the Medical Centre so it was close to help if needed. No need for a helicopter ride to hospital this time.

We follow the river through gorges with views of mountains all the way.

Narrow gorge road

This is a forestry area and we see signs of logging some kind of pine trees. There was a large established apple orchard with a quite modern processing plant. This provides employment for locals and a good profit for the owners I expect. We stopped for a coffee and apple donut at the very modern shop and I popped into their Farmstay Lodge to use their toilet. (10 stars)

Farmstay Lodge, definitely for the wealthy.

Jeeps going past full of trekkers who don’t want to walk. They come up and have a look around and go back down again with bad backs and blisters on their bums from the bumpy ride.

Prayer wheels at the entrances to each village, so we pray for a safe crossing

The air is cooler but the sun is hot and the pollution haze has nearly disappeared. Each jeep and motorbike that passes us puffs out clouds of black smoke and stirs up the dust, so I presume we will only be clear of the pollution when we get above Manang, where there is no road. We have joined the locals with the sniffing and throat clearing as our body tried to rid us of it all. People die early from lung disease here.

Jay carefully crossing a swing bridge
A nice break in the shade.
Road dusty but mountain glorious
Lunch time and over 3 000 metres above sea level
Kitchen at our lunch stop. The food is very good.
View of snow capped mountains from lunch stop
Our hotel. Very brightly painted. 3rd floor room with a view
Our home for the night

Days 4 16 April

7 hours walk today, which included an hour and a half for lunch. We had an elevation gain of 610 metres, taking us to 2,710 metres.  Mt Taranaki is 2,518.

A picture tells the story

A little rest on a hot day

We saw our first New Zealand sponsored water station. 40 rupees (50 cents) for a litre of fresh water. These are given to a local women’s co-op to make money and serve us trekkers.

As we entered one village we could hear the music and chanting from a  Buddhist temple that had a festival day.  Basu asked if we could come in and they welcomed us. We went upstairs to their payer room and Basu said we could take photos as long as we left  a donation at the altar. I kind of made a fool of myself trying to find some small notes to leave. It was dark, and I had my sunglasses on, and I am quite blind at the best of times. The first notes were far too big, and I fumbled around in my plastic bag of notes until I found something suitable. I was quite embarrassed and felt uncharitable  with the monks all watching me.  But the ladies outside gave us a cup of warm, sweet, milky tea which we enjoyed sitting in the sun.

The road is constantly  under repair  a Nepal has earthquakes and a rainy season the causes landslides and avalanches.  Three years ago this valley lost many houses, parts of the road and lives. So there is a lot of construction and building going on.

Broken bridge and new bridge
Piles of shingle

Other trekkers walking the same as us include a young Aussie couple, young Frenchman who sits outside with a beer and smokes on arrival, Lydia who is a German woman who has just finished her medical degree. So we leap frog with them all day.

High narrow roads

We were very pleased to be walking on the old track for most of the time  rather than the new road. If you have ever seen that TV series of the world’s worst roads, you will have probably seen this one.

The road goes around that peak

Today was about 25 ° but we were in and out of the bush most of the day which gave us some shade. We spent half of the day on the old track.

Lunch break at 10.30 for 1.5 hours. We cool our feet under the tap alongside the lady who is washing the greens for lunch.

Lunch rest

The further we get along the trail the more friendly the people are. We are now seeing families working in the fields planting crops. They grow barley to use for flour in bread making and porridge, corn is also made into flour and eaten fresh. There were apple trees beginning to blossom and some areas of new planting to stop erosion. Looking up above, I am not sure how safe they will be from the next landslide.

Linesman at work
He climbed up there using a knotted rope

The linesman had not finished their job as we had no electricity at our home for the night. We are in bed before dark anyway, being a couple of old grannies. But we are first up and leaving before the young ones wake up.

We came across a few donkeys wandering aimlessly around, and I wondered what happened to the hundreds that had been working the trails when I was here last time. Since the road was constructed, they have lost their jobs.  I hope they got a good redundancy package and a nice field to retire in

Sad looking donkey wandering on the road

Feeling happy.

Day 2  14 May. Bahundanda to Charmje

This was an 8.5 hour day, 12km in  about 30° heat,  uphill most of the way on the old Annapurna Track.  We probably did 79% on the old trail today.

I was saddened to see the changes, no trains of donkeys, and very few locals out doing their thing. Buses, jeeps and motorbikes shared the road with us. But the views were good, and I loved being back out on trail.

As we walked along the right-hand side of the river, we could see the road weaving its way along the other bank. We were very pleased to be on our side away from the dust and constant uphill gradient.

After lunch I was on the lookout for toilets as my body was getting used to the local cuisine. We refill our water bottles at the Tea Houses and pop in a water purifying tablet.  We are trying to remember to sanitize our hands before eating but are not always so good at this.

Tea Houses are all along the trail and the road ready to sell a coca cola, sprite or a cup of tea and meals. Some provide accommodation too.

On the road we came across some hardy chaps from Belgium riding Royal Enfield motor bikes. They had been on a couple of trips around Nrw Zeakand by bicycle and campervan and were very proud to hear that they ratedNew Zealand very highly. The young french man at our tea house was also telling everyone that New Zealand was amazing.  We were very proud Kiwis.

There has been a lot of work completed around the wee villages by Chinese. There are power stations and miles of power lines going up extremely steep hills. This is giving power to the villages that had none when I was here last.   I wonder if China is getting the roads snd infrastructure in place so that it will be easy to get their tanks and soldiers here for an invasion.

We stopped at the FishTail guest house for a much needed rest and  lunch. Everything is cooked from scratch, so we have about an hour to air out our feet and rest our bodies in the shade.

I struggled for the second part of the day in the heat and was very pleased to arrive in Charmje at 4pm.

Over dinner I shared my photos from the area 17 years ago and with the owners of the guest house. They were very excited to recognize their daughter as a toddler.  She came out to have a look. Back then the children were all very excited to see themselves on our cameras but now they have grown up and have their own. The kids all gave their faces in cellphones and having tantrums if they are taken off them. Such a shame.

It was a 4 wheel drive, now it is a 2 wheel drive.

A Day Around Town

Our $13 room was really nice. The staff at The Flying Yak were very friendly, if not disappointed that we had already booked our guides as they provide treking services too.

We did a bit of shopping, New boots for me as mine really looked dodgy, having been stored in a warm dry garage for about 10 years. I have taken to wearing trail runners but decided I might need boots for the snowy high passes. NZD$82.

The streets were stressing me out, and I was really ready to be in the mountains. It is amazing that anyone has electricity here when you see the tangle of wires. There was a real commotion when one big tangle soarked and banged and caught fire. People in the apartments above were tipping buckets of water on it, which didn’t help. The police arrived as I was imagining Thamal burning. When we returned an hour later, a man was up there sorting out the tangle with the power still on.

We fluffed around for a couple of hours, sorting our gear between the big duffle bags that the porter carries and our packs. We both have more gear than we took on  Te Araroa but we need to make the porter feel needed.

We met with Puru and our Guide, Basu and paid our $USD1,300 and sorted out our final arrangements.

We had another quiet break in the Kathmandu Guest House gardens before having dinner in restaurant over looking a crowded Thamal Street. We chatted with an English man who had lived in Thailand for 15 years but was in the process of moving to Pokhara. Pokhara is the tourist town where we will finish our Annapurna Circuit. He said he didn’t like Thai people, so we wondered why it took him 15 years to leave.

We shared a bottle of very sweet Nepalese wine to accompany our dinner.

Ready for Nepal

As I said, I am returning to Nepal after 17 years. I have a bit of a plan, which I will share with you now.

Leaving 10 April, I will make 3 flights, over 25 a hour period , with Kay. Kay is my Kiwi friend who accompanied me last year on some of my Te Araroa NOBO and on Stewart Island. The 11.5 hour flight through the night to Kuala Lumpa will require some alcohol and/or drugs to get through, I think.

We have less than two hours there to transfer to the flight to Kathmandu, Nepal. ( Not Kathmandu, the shop, but the capital city of Nepal). A 5 hour flight will have us arriving at noon Nepalese time, but it will be like 7pm to us. I am sure we will be knackered. It is funny how tiring sitting around can be.

Once in Nepal we will have a day to get sorted with the guide I used on my previous trip. I am looking forward to reconnecting with Puru from Above The Himalayas.

Then Kay and I will walk the Annapurna Circuit over 13 days with a guide and a porter. I did this trek back in 2006 when I was 17 years younger, so it will be interesting to see how I go this time. Altitude can cause issues and we will get up to 5,416 metres. For comparison : Mt Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain is only 3,724 metres, Ben Nevis is 1,345 metres, Mount Kosciuszko, Australia 2,224 metres)

After completing that I will have a few days with Kay to explore and recuperate before Kay leaves to do a long walk in England. There are many UNESCO Heritage sites to visit.

Then I will join a group of 6 other Kiwis to do a 21 day bespoke 21 Day trek including The Three Passes and Everest Base Camp Trek.”

Most people who trek the 139km Everest Base Camp fly into Lukla, take about 6 days to get to Base Camp then return the same route over about 4 days before flying out again.

However, Grant has come up with a trek that will have us start with a 9 hour bus to trip from Kathmandu to Jiri. We will then take 17 days to get to Everest Base Camp via 3 Passes that are even higher than the Base Camp. This will nearly double the distance but give us more time to acclimatize and to experience more of the highest parts of Nepal.

I agreed to this before I really did any research but that seems to be how I roll.

This group consists of

  • Roy, Grant and Roger are 3 real Kiwi blokes from farming, tramping, and hunting backgrounds all about 65 years old.
  • Next is a Brendon, retired GP doctor who will be on his 3rd trip to Nepal
  • Kathy, retired nurse (66) who did her first trip to Nepal in the early 1970s when the hippies were wandering Nepal in search of good native Marijuana. Since then, she has returned to do a cycle trip across to Tibet.
  • The 6th member is Joe, and being in his 30s is the baby of the group. He is another real outdoors bloke.

I checked out one of Joe’s YouTube posts and saw that he carried a box of beers, a 5kg bag of potatoes and a very heavy cast iron pot, along with his tent and other gear, with him on a hunting trip. Following a successful hunt, he would also be able to carry out a deer as well.

So my theory is that if we get into any trouble I will have all bases covered.

  • the men will know what to do
  • The doctor can treat any illnesses and injuries
  • The nurse will take good care of me
  • The young guy can carry me out if needed. But he will probably want to gut me and cut off my head first.

I have taken out insurance with World Nomads, which is one of the few companies that will provide cover when trekking up to 6,000 metres. I will climb to over 5,400 metres on about 6 occasions. Hopefully, I will not need to use the policy, but the $950 is a no-brainer with my track record.

Info about Nepal

A little bit of information about Nepal for those of you who are not very geographic. Nepal is:

  • One of the poorest countries on earth
    • Population of about 30 million.
    • Landlocked, so I won’t be sunning myself at the beach.
    • Surrounded by India and Tibet/ China.
    • 75% of the country is mountains.
    • Animals include tigers and leopards, gaurs (wild ox), occasional elephants and buffalo, and many deer, donkeys and yaks. Also Yeti, the abominable  snowman. I will be particularly looking out for a Yeti as I am sure I could get good money for a photo of one.
    • One of the few countries in the world that has never been under foreign occupation.
    • 7 UNESCO World Heritage Cultural Sites within a radius of 15 km (I will try and visit them all this time)
    • Land of earthquakes as the Indo-Australian plate lies beneath Nepal (last big quake was 2015)
    • Currency Nepalese Rupee. We get 83 for a NZ$. NR 1,000 is about $12 NZD
    • Area 140,800 Sq. km (NZ 268,000 Sq. km)
    • Birth place of Lord Buddha
    • Has the world’s highest peak, Mount Everest (8848m) known in Nepali as Sagarmatha and Tibetan as Chomolungma—straddles the border between Nepal and Tibet at the crest of the Himalayan mountain chain.
    • Has 8 of the world’s 10 tallest mountains
    • Main religions are Hinduism and Buddhism.
  • Most common food is Dal Bhat which is lentils and rice eaten with the right hand. (Left hand is for toilet use). I will take a spoon, and Peerag as I am sure I will get that wrong.
  • Cows are sacred, meaning 12 years in jail for killing one. I don’t expect to be eating many steaks while I am there.
  • 80 diverse ethnic groups and 123 different languages and dialects.
  • Not a single drop of blood has ever been shed in Nepal in the name of religious and ethnic riots. There are not many countries that could boast that!!
  • The flag is the only one in the world that is not a rectangle

Bibbulmun Track  overview

I have just found that i hadn’t posted this summary of the Bibbulmun Track. So here goes.

Overall I give this track a very high rating as a long walking track.  It was not an adventure or a Kiwi tramp,  as such, but a damn long walk, through a beautiful piece of Australia. 

I think I would have got more out of it if I had been more interested in the flora and fauna. All the other walkers I came in contact with were Australians who were particularly interested in the flowers, trees and birds. They were looking for the different species during the day and spent the evenings discussing their finds and looking up apps or books to identify them. I am quite ignorant on these areas so had little to add. A blue flower, a yellow flower, a small flower is about the limit of my knowledge.


It was a long walk for sure but compared to others I have walked it was technically and logistically easy.  The track was designed to be  able to be walked by anybody who has the inclination, the time and the stamina to walk 1,000km.  The days average about 5 hours walking between campsites so this makes it a good way to experience long distance walking.

Each campsites has a 3 sided sleeping shelter that sleeps at least 12.   This includes a good sized  undercover area for cooking and hanging out. There is always water tanks, toilets and cleared tent sites.  I did not need to use my tent at all as I always  managed a bed space in the hut.

There is usually other tables outside and most campsites have a firepit. Cell phone and internet coverage was widespread along the track and at most huts.

There is vehicle access to all the huts for maintenance  and many places to access the track by car along the way. This makes it an ideal track for section walkers. I must have walked across at least 300 red dirt roads, fire break tracks or 4 wheel drive tracks however there were not many vehicles to be seen as many were closed due to die back which is a disease killing trees.

The track is well marked with Warguls (markers on trees or posts) and can be downloaded onto a number of different apps. These only use GPS so do not need internet or cell phone coverage. It is easy at any time to see exactly where you are and where you are heading. I only took wrong turns a couple of times because I was not really being observant rather than it being badly marked.

The track is very well maintained by volunteers. Apparently there is a waiting list! There were some trees across the track but usually clear paths had been cut around the tree. Some parts needed the bushes on either side trimmed but usually not for any distance and they were not prickly gorse bushes to contend with.

The terrain was mostly flat with a few wee hills each day that help to increase fitness. There were no difficult mountains or scrambling and all the creeks and rivers were bridged. I walked through some knee deep puddles on the Pinjerup Plains but there is no mud to get stuck in.

Only 2 ticks

Australia is known for it’s dangerous and poisonous wildlife such as spiders, ticks and snakes but the cooler weather meant I only saw 5 snakes and they were all slithering away from me. One huntsman spider showed herself in hut but they are not harmful and eat the mosquitoes and flies. I had to deal with only two ticks. Maybe I was particularly lucky.

Cute little thing

Also because of the nice cool weather organised by Garry, I had very little trouble with flies and mossies. I wore my head net at 2 camps and used my Deet about 4 times.

Bug netting needed twice

The four inlet crossings are manageable although the one at Denmark now requires car or boat ride around. One has canoes to use. I did get a ride around the Torbay inlet and had the guidance of a surfie on another one.

Estuary crossing

Only in the first 10 days out from Perth is there a need to have assistance with resupply for food and fuel. After that the track passed directly through small towns where anything needed on trail can be purchased. Most places stocked New Zealand Back Country meals. This helps the local economies who are all struggling.

Accommodation is available in these places so a rest day can be taken with a bed, a shower, the chance to wash clothes eat “normal food” and have a beer or two. I spent about $60 a night on accommodation including a basic hotel room, a caravan, backpackers room or cabin at caravan park. My cheapest was at Peaceful Bay where I paid $20 for a tent site and actually slept in the camp kitchen on a table.

I used the same gear that I had for Te Araroa and found it quite adequate. My pack was smaller and lighter than most other walkers and this probably contributed to my overall performance.

So if you are contemplating doing a bit of a walk then this is a good one to do.

I believe most people who are regular trampers / hikers / bush walkers could leave this trail for their last one. Achievable into your 70’s or 80’s even. Also very good for those who haven’t done any long walks before as it is a perfect starter.

Go for it!

Day 56 Final day.

After 56 days on trail I walked the last 12km into Albany with my son Cameron. We chatted almost the way about lots of things so I didn’t really get too much into thinking about finishing.

Sandpatch hut – the last night.
A bit of light rain at the end

I was ready to finish, ring the bell and make my final entry in the Track Book.

So I am back I to civilisation and spending a couple of days in Albany before heading back to Perth. Albany has history as a whaling station, the first settlement in Western Australia, the place the Anzac fleets departed for WW1 and has beaches that attract holiday makers getting away from the summers up north. So we enjoyed a good look around.

Replica of the first ship
Kangaroo steak

Day 55. Nearly finished.

I met up with Ted about 3km along the track the next morning. I enjoyed my ride with him learning about the history of the area, the local Bush Fire Brigade he was involved with and having a coffee at a local Cafe on the way to drop me off. He had been a school teacher and was a real gentleman and only too pleased to help me out.


I then had 18km walk to my last hut, Sandpatch, where I would meet Cameron. It was a 1 snake, 20 wind turbines , 4 kangaroos and 2 people day.   Not much to report on the day except that I was glad to arrive about 1.30pm.

Surfing coast
Getting closer to civilization

Sandpatch hut was a new one, again to replace the previous one that was burnt. This was the first hut with a block floor and tin lined walls, although still the same main design as the ones down this way.

Cameron had arrived before me and had the lunch ready to eat by the time I had changed out of my walking clothes and set up my bed. He had brought chocolate which I made short work of, not having had any on the whole trail.

The couple I had passed earlier in the day arrived a while later. From Darwin, they are walking this section after having ridden parts of the Munda Biddi cycle trail. They were struggling with the cold weather.

Sandpatch hut
And rest those feet

Day 54 to Torbay hut 16.5km and a Quenda meeting.

I stayed snuggled up in my bed reading yet another book picked up on the way. I swapped out the 70% finished James Bond book for an book written by Australian Mary Gaunt in the 1890’s. It is proving to be a bit more realistic than Bond but a harder read.

After my slow start I dressed up again as Big Bird and made my way under grey skies to Torbay Hut. It was 16.5km up and down sandhills inland for some of it then out along the top of the cliffs. The cold wind from the south made the sea rough. I had no rain but the poncho helped protect me from the wind. I don’t like wearing my raincoat unless I have to because I sweat too much going up the hills.

I didn’t see another human soul, only kangaroos. I presume they have souls too. No snakes.

Some rocky outcrops to walk over

I arrived at 1pm, four hours later. Soup and cheese and crackers warmed me up while I chatted on the phone to my son Dean in New Zealand.

I was concerned about my next days walk so then began looking in earnest at the maps. My plan was to do a double hut day to reach Sandpatch hut about 24 km away. Cameron will walk in to meet me there from Albany. Then we can finish the track together the next day.

But there is an inlet crossing about half way that I was slightly concerned about doing on my own. The low tide was 2.30pm wiuch would necessitate a late start and mean arriving at the hut around 5.30pm which is nearly sunset in this place that has no day light savings.

There is an alternative route that requires a 24km extra walk along roads. The roads out here are sand tracks and I wasn’t keen on doing a 47km day. The chances of getting a hitch were very low because the roads lead to beaches and no Aussie is going to a beach in this weather.

Red line is the track.Blue us the road diversion

I don’t so much mind getting washed away out to sea but I would like to have a witness to tell my family what happened. Maybe I am a bit weary of the sea but would get over it and be okay if I had someone with me. Also I would rather do it on a sunny day where I can get warmed up easily afterwards. (That is after a successful crossing rather than being swept out to sea).

As happens so many times in my life an angel turns up to help me. This time it is an older man, Ted, who comes and sits with me telling me he lives about 5km away and regularly walks up here for his excersise. We discussed the inlet crossing and he suggested that it would not be recommended as there has been considerable rain and with the strong onshore winds we ghave been having I would be wise to miss it.

So he offered me a ride for the 24km around the inlet. He will meet me along the beach in the morning and drop me back past the inlet on his way into Albany for the day. Whew.

He also calmed my nerves when this rat like thing arrived sniffing around. If he wasn’t here I would have freaked thinking it was huge rat and not slept all night. However Ted told me that it was a Bandicout or Quenda. It is a marsupial and definitely not a rodent. I am not to be scared of it, he told me. I should see it in the same way I see a kangaroo.

Actually I reckon it looks like a rat and a kangaroo have mated but I won’t tell the Aussies that as they have quite a soft spot for these creatures. I just hope they don’t steal my food or walk over me in my sleep because I am not allowed to poke them with my stick. It kept coming back to find crumbs.

I snuggled up in my sleeping bag reading my book and eating a pot of instant noodles. I now understand why people like these things. They are quick and easy and very satisfying, real comfort food.

Instant noodles.